Praise, Condemnation After Lapid Reaffirms Commitment to Two-state Solution

Biden welcomes 'courageous statement' from Israeli leader, but former PM Netanyahu accuses Lapid of opening the door to 'a terror state'

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrives to address the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday.
Israel's Prime Minister Yair Lapid arrives to address the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Thursday.Credit: Julia Nikhinson/AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid's reindorsement of the two-state solution during his speech at the UN General Assembly on Thursday received a wide range of responses from party leaders, Knesset members, and ministers across the political spectrum.

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Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and the chairman of the far-right Religious Zionism party, Bezalel Smotrich, both criticized Lapid for saying that an agreement based on two states for two peoples is the right thing for Israel' security.

"The speech exuded weakness, defeat, and bowing of heads," Netanyahu said, adding that Lapid returned the Palestinian state to the global agenda after his government had removed during his time as prime minister.

"Lapid has said in the past that he's willing to evacuate 90,000 Israelis in order to establish a Palestinian state. Now he intends to give them a terror state in the center of the country, one that will threaten all of us," Netanyahu continued.

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed Lapid's speech, calling it a "courageous statement."

The president said that he "could not agree more" with Lapid's assertion that “an agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy, and for the future of our children.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides also welcomed the speech.

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli also welcomed the address in a tweet, calling it a Zionist and strategic speech which was so important for Israel. She stated that Labor would continue to support and promote a diplomatic solution to ensure Israel's prosperity and future as a Jewish and democratic state.

Religious Zionism head Bezalel Smotrich called the speech a capitulation to terror and division that would expel thousands of Jews from their home.

It is a "return to the accursed days of Oslo," he added. "Lapid and Gantz have returned the Palestinian Authority to the center of the international arena and discussion, stoking hope in the sails of Palestinian nation-seeking; the results are already being felt by Israel's citizens."

Meretz leader Zehava Galon tweeted that this was a historic speech. “Finally, the vision of peace is on the agenda. “Meretz will be on Lapid’s left side in order to turn this vision into a reality, in order to end this cycle of bloodshed and desist from dominating millions of Palestinians, ending years of pain and bereavement on both sides. May this be a year of peace.”

The U.S. ambassador in Israel, Thomas Nides, echoed President Joe Biden's words from July, saying these are two nations with deep and ancient roots in this land, living side by side in peace and security.

Coalition members also criticized Lapid’s speech. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked tweeted that Yair Lapid “was speaking for himself when supporting a Palestinian state. It’s an electioneering gimmick. We will never allow the establishment of a Palestinian terror state in the middle of Israel. Such a state would be a hotbed of terror, causing regional instability.”

On Wednesday, alternate Prime Minister Naftali Bennett criticized Lapid’s intention to express support for promoting a two-state solution. In a Facebook post, he wrote that there was no room for or logic in floating this idea again. He said that when he was prime minister, he took care to avoid needlessly fighting with the entire world but also refraining from capitulating needlessly.

Other coalition members expressed support following the speech. Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev tweeted that this was an impressive and moving speech by the Prime Minister from the UN podium. “It’s a great honor for Israel to be presented in such a seemly manner, while remaining resolved to protect Israel’s defense and diplomatic needs.”

Minister for Regional Cooperation, Esawi Frej, tweeted that the Prime Minister had stated the obvious, that peace was the right thing for Israelis and Palestinians, and that the road to it leads through two states.

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